By: Amanda Guarragi
When we think about female empowerment, we think more about the women who inspire us to feel like we can do anything. We don’t think about what makes us feel empowered, and that’s where Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) comes in. The Magic Mike (2012) franchise began as a standalone film loosely based on Tatum’s experiences as a male dancer. Director Steve Soderbergh and writer Reid Carolin wanted to explore the behind-the-scenes lifestyle of these workers. This film trilogy started through a male lens, only to end with a woman’s fantasy being shown through Mike Lane. The first film is grounded in Mike Lane’s journey as an entrepreneur building furniture and being a male stripper to make money. It shows how corrupt the working class system is in America that people have to end up working two jobs to make an honest living.
In the sequel, Magic Mike XXL (2015), Soderbergh worked as a cinematographer and editor instead of directing the project. Carolin continued writing, and Gregory Jacobs stepped in as director. The tone completely shifted from the first film. And it seemed that the guys had more fun with the story in the second one. The sequel was about being bigger and better, as the guys went on a road trip to a massive stripper convention to put out one last blowout performance. The choreography was ten times better, and the people the Kings of Tampa meet along the way just added to how entertaining they could all be. Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello were standouts in this sequel because they had much more to do. They ended up feeling like a family, and it was about the journey with your friends.
In this final instalment, Magic Mike takes his last dance as he follows a wealthy socialite named Max (Salma Hayek), who hires him to do a special job for her. Max is in the middle of a divorce, and she wants to reclaim who she is. In doing so, she wants to revamp the outdated play in place at The Rattigan Theatre to something more empowering. She wants Mike to help recapture the magic of the night they spent together through dance. By creating a story dipped in female fantasy. Women’s desires are all wrapped up in this one play that Max and Mike design. Mike teaches intimacy, consent, connection and appreciation of women through dance. There is no stripping without an intimate connection with women in the audience, and that’s what makes Magic Mike’s Last Dance so entertaining to watch.
Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek have incredible chemistry together. It felt so natural and playful that their relationship was so believable as business partners and lovers. Steven Soderbergh ended the trilogy on a high note as he explored human connection through dance and women’s desires by unifying them in the audience with the stage performance. Soderbergh’s direction worked for the women in the audience watching the movie and the women in the film watching the theatrical performance. There are some gorgeous shots when framing the dance sequences, and Soderbergh made you feel everything with the characters. The Magic Mike trilogy has closed out in the best way possible. It was a deconstruction of what male stripping looked like, whether it was done for the money or to have fun and get women. Now, they made it more meaningful for women to reclaim the fantasy for themselves.